Those Paynims

November 28, 2006

I don’t listen to a lot of music. But when I do listen to music, I prefer folk metal, epic metal, and stuff like that.

I was listening to a song recently, called When Gjallarhorn Will Sound (by Falkenbach). I liked the song a lot – except for the death metal vocals (the normally sung vocals were fine). First of all, I don’t like death metal vocals. They sound… stupid. But I didn’t like the lyrics either. I’ll reproduce them; you guess why.

“Ruler of Asgaard, father of Thorr,
send me your powers devine …
Grant me your wisdom, strengthen my soul,
so revenge of our blood shall be mine…

Allfather Odhinn, I entreat you with awe,
to ride with me side by side,
so avenged shall all be, who had died in the past,
by the power of heathenish pride…

Master of thunder, lighting and rain,
soon your hammer and cross shall collide…
Protector of midgaard’s daughters and sons,
in your name christian reign I will fight…

When the hammer will crush, and oppressors will fall,
my sword will be raised to thy hail !
Then the fires shall burn in the name of the Gods
as the sign of the heathen prevail !”

….

“Strong is my heart, and strong is my will,
soon I will break our chain…
Then the swords shall be raised
and our flag held up high,
the banner of the heathen domain…

Long I’ve awaited the day of revenge,
the heathenish reign to return…
Now my swordblade is forged,
and my soul will prepared,
by my hands christian crosses shall burn…”

Wanna take a guess?

I understand that most people who say they believe in the Norse gods do so in conscious opposition to Christianity (like in the above song). But, my question is, why are the two mutually exclusive? Why is polytheism considered mutually exclusive with monotheism? I’m going to put forth the claim that one person can logically believe in a variation upon the Norse gods, namely Tolkien’s Valar, and also in the Christian God. (I don’t believe in the Valar but I see no theological reason why I could not.) Why?

The main reason is that the Norse gods are not Gods. They are not omnipotent beings, they are merely more powerful then men. They could be viewed as merely a type of angel. Which is exactly what the Valar are. The Ymir creation myth would have to go, Ragnarok would have to go (or be seen as an explanation of what would happen if the Valar tried to defeat evil in the end without God), but the main substance – the basic idea of polytheism – is not opposed to monotheism. Perhaps you cannot have both Odin and Christ, but you can have Christ and Manwë.

So, in conclusion – I don’t believe in the Valar. But I see how one could, and still be Christian.

This is probably less coherent than it could be. It’s a strange topic, and when I wrote it I wasn’t quite sure what my thesis was. Make if this what you will.


Why LEGOs Are Teh Awesome

November 22, 2006

Now, for a more lighthearted post.

First off, if you didn’t know – I really like LEGOs (properly called LEGO ™ bricks). My bedroom is filled with them. I have a 1.5ft (height) x 1ft (depth) x 3ft (width) LEGO elven castle, a 2ft x 1 ft x 1ft LEGO sorcerer’s tower, and a bunch of minifigs. I might post pics of them someday… as soon as I get a digital camera.

But I’m nowhere near as obsessed as these people. I mean, that’s impressive. Just click any of the “Featured MOC” links. The 2006 one is the most impressive, methinks.

I wish I had that many LEGOs to play around with. I could finish my elven castle. Right now it’s just one side of the castle. I still need 3 more sides, plus a keep. If I ever finish it, it’ll be 3ft x 3ft x 3ft, at least.

But there are really two different elements to LEGO bricks. There are the bricks themselves, which you build into impressive castles like those linked to above. Then there are the little people, called minifigs. It’s a lot of fun to customize them, too. Make different characters, reconstruct scenes from history or fiction… right now I’m trying to make models of various scenes from Orbivm’s history.

Which is better? They require very different skills to do well. Castle-making is, in essence, architecture. Modding minifigs is basically costuming. I think I prefer castle-making in theory, but it is much more expensive (you have to buy a whole lot of bricks to make anything decent, versus just having a few minifigs, the proper printer, and some designs).

So… anyone else play with LEGOs when they were kids? Anyone still play with them?


Reason Redux

November 17, 2006

It’s always a good feeling when one’s philosophical/theological ramblings turn out to have came to a conclusion completely compatible with what you actually believe.

Recently, due to the paper on Islam I wrote for theology class, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between reason and God. As I explained in my previous post on why God>=math (though perhaps it would be more accurate to say math is a member of the set God),

Truth is a part of God.

A friend of mine seemed to think that my conclusion (that math is God, or at least a part of him) was heretical. I wasn’t sure whether it was or not, so I put it in the back of my mind as another topic for discussion.

Then, I read an article in crisis (a Catholic magazine, less scholarly than First Things but good nonetheless) talking about Islam and its conception of reason and God. As is makes clear, according to the Gospel of John, Christ is Logos. This means that God is reason. As the article (by Robert R. Reilly) said,

As Benedict makes clear, the reason Christianity was insulated from an obsession with God’s omnipotence was the revelation of Christ as Logos in the Gospel of St. John. If Christ is Logos – if God introduces Himself as ratio – then God is not only all-powerful, He is reason.

Assuming, then, that math is “part of” truth and reason in the sense that I mean, math is God. Math is the second person of the Holy Trinity.

I realize proof through authority is not valid in philosophy, but this is theology, man. Gimme a break.


The Deptford Mice Trilogy [reconstructed]

November 14, 2006

I first read these books a few years ago, and I reread them a few months ago. I was struck by how… mature they are, for supposed childrens books.

The basic reasons are:

  • The characters are well developed. They are not one-dimensional, and they are still believable.
  • The struggle is not one between good and bad, it is between Good and Evil.
  • Yet none of the characters are entirely good. The book manages to “create the idea of white when the characters are only different shades of grey”.
  • The books effectively portray magic.

The original content of this post have been lost to the great digital void. The essential points of this post were reconstructed by Túrin a month after the fact, but do not imagine for a second that the current content of this post is as good as the original.


Retreat!

November 7, 2006

The past two days I spent on my class retreat. For whatever reason, it really depressed me. (Though I was depressed Saturday too; I might just never have cheered up.) But I also managed to come up with a semi-decent explanation of why I believe God >= math. So here goes.

First of all, what is math? Painting in rather broad strokes, math is truth. Well, math is a type of truth. It isn’t math to say “that couch is red”. It isn’t even math to say “there is one couch”. But it is math to say “1+1=2”, or “infinity is not a number”. So, math means universal truths, not particular truths. Math means truths that God himself cannot change. God cannot make 1+1=3. He can, though, make the couch not red, because couches do not HAVE to be red.

(This raises interesting questions as to whether God can act “immorally” – i.e., whether morality is defined by what God proscribes and prescribes, or whether there is something deeper to it. But I don’t really know too much about that.)

Could one say “God does not exist”? i.e., is the existence of God a universal truth? Let us assume that it is not. Then you would have nothing – no God, no universe, no rational beings. But, I hold, there would still be math. Even if nothing existed, math would still exist. Of course, so would all other universal truths (whatever you hold those to be).

But, God is defined as the most perfect being. How can it be that his existence is not universal, while math’s is? So the existence of God must be a universal truth.

This seems to put God in the same category as math, and his existence as a truth on the same level as math. But, God is not by definition, equal to anything – he is superior to anything. So, to reconcile these two, you must say that math is, in a sense, a part of God. Just as Truth is a part of God.

Remember, this is not, strictly speaking, a proof, and my hope here is not to convince you rationally that God >= math (because I don’t think this argument does that, in its present form), it is merely to give you some concepts to think about, some of which may lead you, but a not strictly logical process, to that belief.

So, yeah, this is what I spent the retreat thinking about. Well, one of the things I thought about. I might talk later on one of the others, which is in some ways related to this.


On Time Travel

November 5, 2006

Time travel, whenever and wherever it crops up, has always bugged me. Maybe that’s the mathematician in me, wanting everything to be logical, when time travel just plain is NOT logical. At least, I have yet to see time travel implemented in a fairly decent manner.

So I started trying to come up with exactly why time travel stories always seem to suck, whether in sci-fi or in fantasy, in movies or in books… and I came up with a list of criteria time travel must, in my VERY SUBJECTIVE opinion, meet in order to “make sense”.

  1. There must be no return. If you go backwards in time, you have left the world from whence you traveled, and can never come back. You may be able to get back to a world very much like what which you just left (if you just traveled 1 second backwards in time, it would be just about the exact same), but it will not the the same world. That other world you have left; it continues to exist, but in a different universe from the one you are present in. By time traveling, you take your curent universe, trace it backwards however many years, and say, “what if a man, with this knowledge, these physical characteristics, etc, were to suddenly appear, out of nowhere, right here?”. There is no connection to the previous universe.
  2. Like I said above, traveling backwards is just making a what if. Traveling forwards in time is analogous to just waiting until the proper time, along the way having absolutely no effect on the world around you. These two criteria, I think, both eliminate the “time traveler’s paradox” and just make sense.
  3. The time travel must be supernatural. Not just superhuman – supernatural. It can come from God, from a demon, from a mysterious, unexplained force, whatever. But it can’t be explained. Why? Because, for one, to explain time travel makes it seem like anyone could do it, given the proper knowledge. For time travel to be interesting it must be limited. Otherwise, you get a bunch of different people creating a million different universes, all basically similar, but all completely unconnected. That’s just dumb. But if time travel does not stem from knowledge, but from a mysterious force like God, the time traveler is chosen. And THAT is interesting.
  4. This last one is not a requirement, but I think it makes it more interesting. The Time Traveler should be immortal. Why? Because if he is mortal, he can only travel to so many times and places, and once he gets accidentally killed, the story’s over. But if he’s immortal, he can see everything. The story is endless. Therein is the interest in time travel, I think.

I may add to or emend this list in the future. If I do, I’ll let you know.

By the way, I plan to, eventually, write a time travel novella. I have most of it planned out, but I haven’t yet put pen to paper. I should have tried to do it for NaNoWriMo, but I’m too busy this month. Maybe next year.


So…

November 4, 2006

I’ve never really been interested in blogging. I’m big on the traditional means of internet communication – email, forums, etc. Not so much IM, blogging, stupid sites like facebook, etc.

But for some reason blogging has really started to appeal to me over the past month or so. So I decided to actually start one.

What will I talk about? Wesnoth, a lot, probably. Random philosophic and literature-related insights. Random stuff. Apathy. Why Math = God. Etc. I have a lot of stuff on my mind…


%d bloggers like this: